True happiness and meaning comes from a life of giving. Our planet benefits when we step up and do whatever we can to make a difference. Find out how you can contribute to causes that matter to you even if you’re strapped for cash. (Estimated reading time: 4-5 minutes)
“In this life, we cannot always do great things. But we can do small things with great love.”— Mother Teresa
It was a sunny day at my neighborhood park where I was busy setting up a spot for an afternoon picnic with my friends. While waiting for them to arrive, I opened a bottle of lemonade to refresh myself.
After I finished my drink, I couldn’t find any trash bins nearby, so I kept the bottle aside to dispose of later. After a few moments, a little girl came up to me and said, “Excuse me, are you going to use that?”
I smiled and said “No, I’m not.”
“May I please have it? I’m collecting all the empty plastic bottles and cans in the park so that I can recycle them,” she said.
“That’s so sweet of you! Are you doing this for a school project?” I asked curiously.
“No. I’m doing it because I love my planet. It’s the only home I have so I would like to take care of it,” she responded with confidence.
This brief verbal exchange that I had with the little girl at the park made a lasting impression on me. Not only was I surprised by her mature disposition, but I was I deeply moved by the strength of her conviction to save the environment.
She felt a genuine sense of responsibility towards the welfare of the planet and she took the initiative to act upon it. At her young age, she probably did not have a lot of resources to fund her efforts, but she did not let it deter her.
Just imagine if we could all be as driven as this little girl to do our part in making meaningful contributions to the world. Imagine if we could step out of our own little bubbles of self-importance and extend our concern beyond the superficial.
A lot of people have sincere intentions to contribute in meaningful ways, but they seldom act on it. They might even attempt to do so but fail to follow through because they distracted by busyness of their life. Gradually, their planned effort to help others gets shelved into the “would-be-nice-to-do-someday” category.
Some people have the notion that making any contribution that’s worthwhile requires a lot of time, money and effort. They see philanthropic activities as a favorite pastime of the rich and famous who have the resources to engage in charitable endeavors.
However, this could not be further from the truth. Each and every one of us can contribute towards the wellbeing of others and the planet, in our own unique way. The key is to not feel pressured to do it on a large scale. Even if we help just one person, we are altering the global consciousness.
There is in urgency for this shift in attitude for two important reasons. First, our planet desperately needs more people to awaken to avoid the potential risks of to our planet, including a cataclysmic nuclear war, climate change and other environmental threats.
Second, our mental and emotional health is directly impacted by our capacity to demonstrate compassion towards others. The increase in mental health issues in developed nations is due to society’s assumption that happiness can only be found in a life of fame and fortune.
We need to realize that this is an illusion created by social conditioning, and step out of this ego-driven paradigm. Only then will we have the clarity to see that true happiness comes from a life of giving. This realization will give our life a whole new meaning and we’ll become more connected to the harmonious flow of nature.
No matter how busy or strapped for cash you are, you can begin to make a life of giving. Here are some guidelines to find what works best for you:
1. Pick causes that are truly important to you: You can’t save the whole world, but you can certainly do your part by focusing on one or two causes that resonate with your personal values. Usually they are related to matters that either tug at your heartstrings or infuriate you.
2. Decide how you would like to contribute: After choosing a cause, you need to decide how much time, effort or finances you’re willing to put in towards supporting it. It’s important to decide on something that you’ll be able to realistically commit to on a regular basis without feeling resentful.
3. Search for the ideal opportunities: When you’re clear about which causes you would like to contribute towards and how you would like to do it, it will be much easier to search (or create) opportunities. You can find lots of information on the Internet and in your local community.
4. Demonstrate kindness and exude love: Making a difference is not limited to charity or volunteer work. You can do it in your daily life by engaging in simple acts of kindness for people you may or may not know. Some examples of this is offering your bus seat to an elderly person, giving a word of encouragement to someone who’s down, or cooking a meal for a loved one. In this way, you make giving not just an activity you participate in but something that’s intrinsic in your nature.
A great legacy is created not from a living a life of personal gains but from touching the lives of people in a positive way.
If love and kindness are guiding forces in your life, you can be sure that you’ll leave the world feeling satisfied that you did your part in making it a better place.
All my best on your journey,
Question for you: How would you like to make a difference in the world? What would that mean to you?
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